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Friday, January 24th, 2014 at 9:00 am  |  12 responses

Post Up: Business as Usual

Stars carry Heat, Trail Blazers to home wins

by Brett Weisband | @weisband

Heat (31-12) 109, Lakers (16-27) 102

In crunch time, the Heat had the two best players on the floor, and those two closed the door on the Lakers. LeBron James (27 points, 13 rebounds, six assists) kicked it up a gear in winning time, blowing by Young for an easy layup, following that up with a difficult angle 3-pointer. With the margin at five, the ever-reliable Chris Bosh (31 points) splashed in another mid-range jumper.

You’ve probably seen all over the Internet that Miami is stuck in their annual mid-season malaise. It showed against the Lakers on Thursday, as Los Angeles managed to hang around in a game they had no business being in. Miami alternately looked dominant and lackadaisical, building double-digit leads but never putting the Lakers away for good. In the fourth quarter, L.A. got it within four points with under three minutes to go, fueled by scoring outbursts by Nick Young (19 points, 8-20 shooting) and Jodie Meeks (22 points, 4-6 on 3-pointers). 

Bosh was hot all evening, raining in jumpers from all over on his way to 15-22 shooting, helping Miami to 57.7 percent shooting on the night. He was the dominant scoring force for Miami all evening as the Heat yet again played without their full complement of players. Dwyane Wade missed his fourth straight game to rest his knees, leaving the burden to Bosh and James. The Heat pounded the Lakers early, scoring 38 points in the paint in the first half alone.

Despite their obvious advantages all over the court, Miami was unable – or unwilling – to mash the gas and pull away. Part of that was the presence of Pau Gasol, who hung around the basket to score 22 points on 9-15 shooting and pull down 11 boards. Further pointing to a lack of focus by the Heat was their free throw shooting; they hit just 11 of 23 shots from the line (47.8 percent), including a 7-13 night from LeBron. Those missed free throws were a part of the picture, as was the turnover battle. Miami coughed it up 18 times, forcing just 11 from the Lakers as they tone back their hyper-aggressive trapping defense.

Despite Miami’s slump, real or not, they’ve won four of their last five. They also got 10 minutes out of Greg Oden (five points and five boards), his most this season, as he builds his basketball stamina back up.

Trail Blazers (32-11) 110, Nuggets (20-21) 105

Portland had the luxury of riding surefire All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge down the stretch. Their power forward owned the undersized Nuggets, scoring a career-best 44 points on 15-29 shooting while pulling down 13 boards. LMA netted Portland’s final 15 points, getting to the line repeatedly (14-17 overall) as he left the Nuggets no choice but to foul him to stop his mid-range jumpers from splashing in.

Through the first three quarters, Portland looked like the team many thought they’d be coming into the season. They were scoring a ton of points, but giving up even more. To be exact, 91 allowed through 36 minutes. The Blazers were able to flip the defensive switch in the fourth quarter to complete their comeback, holding Denver to 14 points on 6-19 shooting, knocking the Nuggets below 50 percent shooting for the game. The Blazers were able to overcome a poor shooting effort, as they hit just 43.2 percent from the field and 4-18 from deep.  

The Nuggets used Portland’s offensive strategy early on, getting red hot from behind the 3-point line. Denver hit 7-10 triples in the first half and opened the third quarter with Randy Foye (14 points) hitting three shots from long range. Nate Robinson was one of the main aggressors early, as he had all of his 13 points in the first half, as was Ty Lawson, who had 13 and nine assists early.  

As the second half wore on, Portland locked down on the perimeter. After Foye’s triplet 3-pointers, Denver didn’t hit another shot from deep. They also got harried into tons of turnovers – 19 total – and saw their point guard get shut down, as Lawson registered just two assists and no points in the second half to finish with 13 and 11. Nate Rob’s presence on the court came back to hurt Denver later on, as he got abused on the left block by Wes Matthews (24 points, 8-14 shooting), who hit two turnarounds to give Portland the lead. He airballed a 3-ball a short time later, leading to a shot clock violation for the Nuggets.

Denver got 18 points from Wilson Chandler to lead the team. While they weren’t on their games, Portland got solid efforts from Nicolas Batum, who dished out 10 assists, and Damian Lillard, who was a tidy 5-10 for his 11 points and gave the Blazers a spark at the end of the first half.

 

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  • spit hot fiyah

    i have an idea on how to get rid of the problem of all-star snubs. “the SNUB-Game”.

    coaches pick 6 bench players instead of 7, leaving one roster spot open in each conference.

    then u have an east and west team with 7 potential snubs from each conference. also picked by the coaches. they play on friday or saturday and the mvp’s from each team from that game get the last two all-star spots.

    if u get snubbed from the snub-game, then u just have to move on

  • Fan of the game

    Too bad KD doing his thing, because LMA is a legit MVP candidate along with LBJ.

  • Fan of the game

    All-star selections are almost always off-point. Knowledge of the game by the majority of voters is terrible. To me, this renders the all-star game practically irrelevant.
    The all-star game itself doesn’t have the same feel (in terms of the stature and skill-set of players) as it did a decade plus ago (those West teams were so loaded, especially up front, with legit talent – Shaq, TD, KG, CWebb, Malone, Rasheed, Dirk, Kobe, Payton, Kidd, Nash, Matrix, Franchise, etc).

    But all-star guard play resided predominantly in the East (AI, Starbury – what an unbelievable baller, Vince, Tracy, Ray, Reggie, Grant, Baron, Truth, Jermaine, Big Ben, and the always slept on Jamal Mashburn – one of the best to come out of the Bronx).

    Such an eclectic and electric bunch.

  • Fan of the game

    Late 60s East teams were dope, as were most of the 80s and 90s teams.
    70s had some real all-star, streetball heavy players (Pearl, Hawk, Doc, Skywalker, Pistol, Ice, Tiny, – I guess similar to those early 2000s ballers I mentioned.

    The NBA is wondrously rich and filled with countless talented players throughout the years, befitting of the best sport in the planet. Yet, sadly just as many who never made it, but who still contributed, impacted and are just as important overall to the game ( a la Hook Mitchell, Ronnie, Fly, Ray, Hank, Benji, Len, Earl, Joe, Earl, Pee Wee, etc).
    Just dropping more reasons to love and appreciate this trade known as basketball,

  • JJ Jones

    Lebron had an incredible performance last night in the post despite his atrocious free throw shooting. The heat need to consider making chris bosh the permanent second option. When they involve EARLY in the game he more often then not he puts up superstar numbers. The reason he’s so inconsistent in miami is because they never involve/call plays for him. Like in the portland game he was basically first option and outplayed Lamarcus Aldridge because of it. Another reason for making him second option is the unreliability of dwyane wade. This is the 4th game he’s missed now which means he tweaked something/ re-injured himself. Just look at his expression last night something very wrong here and make no mistake about it this has nothing to do with their maintenance program. I suspect that wade possibly is leaving the door open on retirement after this season because this isn’t getting any better despite Miami’s claims.

  • Nigel

    Anyone else a little afraid when a young stud at the PG position comes down from one of those dunks? All these knee injuries lately have me sketched out. :(

  • http://www.rich-imaging.com/ Dutch Rich

    KD should not be MVP!! MVP’s should make their teammates better……all their teammates.

    http://youtu.be/u5ytwTG5lUs?t=1m26s

  • Max

    Am I the only one who loved it when the allstars would all play in their own teams jersey and not these East and West jerseys?

  • spit hot fiyah

    i liked it

  • LakeShow

    I cannot imagine Wade retiring. Players never retire when there is still a chance they can perform at an elite level. He still has a more than fair chance at being a elite player. He still is when he plays.

    But I agree that his situation is not getting better.

    And also agree that Bosh should always be option #2.

  • JJ Jones

    Im not saying that he will retire but u better believe that he’s at least considered that possibility considering that his knee is a chronic issue now.

  • Junkie

    Issue is, all star recognitions are considered when evaluating hall of fame candidates thus creating the dilemma of snubs being given less opportunity

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